The Lost Confederate
|Fun:|| (2.46) |
|Difficulty:|| (2.71) |
A man lay dying. His family and friends were all sleeping. Only his old family retainer was standing by the man's bed as he struggled to take each breath.
"Joe," he gasped, "you have served me long and faithfully. You already know the story of my life, but let me ramble a little. It will help me to impart the information that I want to leave with you. My great, great-grandfather, George Trenholm, left school at the age of sixteen and began to work for a cotton broker. Within a few years, he owned that company.
When the Civil War broke out, his company became the Confederate government's overseas banker and financed its own fleet of blockade runners. It is widely believed that Margaret Mitchell based Rhett Butler on my great great-grandfather. Jefferson Davis appointed him to his cabinet and he served as Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, until ill health forced him to resign. Once he was reputed to be the richest man in the South, but the Civil War changed all that. When the war ended he was a poor man, but he worked diligently and when he died he had made a very good start on his second fortune. The family money and the money I have earned must be left to my family, but I wish to reward you for your years of faithful service. After I am dead and buried go north. Follow the directions on this map."
The dying man struggled to retrieve a crumpled piece of paper that was tucked into his bedding. He handed it to Joe.
"Follow this carefully. It will lead you to the scene of a battle. It was a bloody day and, when it was over, the ground was littered with the dead of both sides. The people of the neighboring town gave Christian burial to the dead Yankees, but the Confederate dead were thrown into a common grave in a neighboring field. Only one person took pity on our dead. One woman from the town found a Southern corpse that was about the same age as her own dead son, and she dug a grave with her own hands and gave that boy a decent send-off. Find that grave. Buried a foot down, you will find a box and in that box are jewels that are all that remain of the Confederate Treasury. Take those jewels and use the money to help your people, who were so sorely used by my people, all those years ago."
A few months later, Joe stood at the site of that long ago battle. The graves stretched out in neat lines in all directions. There were thousands of them. Very few of the graves bore names, and even if they had, Joe did not know the name of that dead rebel. There were no flags. The granite markers that had been placed there contained only the date of death. All the same date of death. Even if the markers had been engraved with some words that would be a clue as to the allegiance of the occupant, it would take days, weeks, maybe even months to read them all. Poor Joe needs your help. Tell him how to swiftly and simply pick out that Confederate grave among all those Yankees.
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